The Ledes

Wednesday, July 1, 2015.

U.K. Telegraph: "Sir Nicholas Winton, who organised the rescue of Jewish children from the Holocaust in 1939, has died aged 106, his family said. Winton earned himself the label 'Britain's Schindler' for saving the lives of 669 children by sending them from Prague to London by train." ...

     ... UPDATE: Winton's New York Times obituary is here.

Al Jazeera: "At least 130 bodies have been found after an Indonesian air force C-130 crashed in a residential neighbourhood in the city of Medan on the northern island of Sumatra, according to military officials. The plane came down on Tuesday hitting empty residential buildings after bursting into flames shortly after takeoff."

New York Times: "Record numbers of people crossed the Mediterranean Sea in a bid to reach the shores of Europe in the first six months of this year, and most of them were entitled to be resettled as refugees under international law, the United Nations said Wednesday."

AP: "Toyota Motor Corp said on Wednesday that Julie Hamp, its first female managing officer, had resigned following her arrest last month on suspicion of illegally importing the painkiller oxycodone into Japan. Hamp, a U.S. citizen, leaves Toyota about a month after she relocated to Tokyo to become the Japanese automaker's chief communications officer. Her appointment was part of a drive by the company to diversify a male-dominated, mostly Japanese executive line-up."

The Wires

The Ledes

Tuesday, June 30, 2015.

New York Times: "With just hours to go before Greece hits a deadline for a debt payment it cannot afford, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday asked the other nations that use the euro to extend another bailout and buy Athens time to renegotiate its crippling debt load." ...

     ... New Lede: "The International Monetary Fund said shortly after midnight Wednesday that Greece had missed a crucial debt payment to the fund."

New York Times: "The Iranian foreign minister rejoined the nuclear talks [in Vienna, Austria,] Tuesday morning as the United States looked for signs that he had arrived with more flexible negotiating instructions."

The Guardian is liveblogging developments in the Greek financial crisis.

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post: "A novel data-mining project reveals evidence that a common group of heartburn medications taken by more than 100 million people every year is associated with a greater risk of heart attacks, Stanford University researchers reported Wednesday."

AP: "Federal health advisers on Tuesday[, June 9,] recommended approval for a highly anticipated cholesterol drug from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, but with the caveat that more data is needed about its long-term ability to reduce heart attacks. The expert panel recommended by a 13-3 vote that the Food and Drug Administration approve the injectable drug, called Praluent."

Washington Post (June 4): "The first-ever 'female Viagra' came one step closer to coming to market, as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday afternoon to recommend that the FDA approve the drug with conditions. The committee voted 18-6 to recommend that the FDA approve flibanserin, a drug designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women."

White House Live Video
July 1

11:00 am ET: President Obama makes a statement on Cuba

2:30 pm ET: President Obama participates in a discussion of the Affordable Care Act in Madison, Tennessee

Go to


Here's a short film by activist Bree Newsome. The film won the best -short-film category at the BET awards (ca. 2010):

Washington Post: "After three years of work by Michelle Obama and the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, a new look was unveiled [in the State Dining Room] Friday[, June 26,] that will be a design legacy of the Obama years." With slideshow, including former incarnations of the room.

Daniel Bethencourt & Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press: "Famed street artist Shepard Fairey, who visited Detroit last month to create the largest mural of his career, faces felony charges of tagging other properties across the city on his own time." The reporters put the charges in the larger perspective of street art.

David Haglund on "James Salter in the New Yorker."

Twelve beautiful bookshops.

Livraria Lello & Irmão, Porto, Portugal.

Gabriel Sherman of New York: "Yesterday, 21st Century Fox announced that [Fox "News" leader Roger] Ailes would be reporting to Lachlan and James Murdoch. For Ailes, it was a stinging smack-down and effectively a demotion. Just five days earlier, Ailes released what now appears to be a rogue statement to his own Fox Business channel declaring that he would be unaffected by the announcement that Lachlan and James will take control of Fox as part of Rupert's succession plan."

The Waldorf-Hysteria. New York Post: Bride "hysterical," lets out "blood-curdling scream," when Waldorf is forced to cancel her million-dollar reception because drunken relatives of the groom allegedly shot some other guests & Waldorf employees. Here's more of the story. You can the boys out of Brooklyn, but....

Sophia A. McClennen in Salon: The real Jerry Seinfeld has become the TV character Jerry Seinfeld. Without the irony. So not funny.

Washington Post: "... thanks to diligent sleuthing and painstaking restoration by a team of art historians at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, the shadowy, richly colored 'Saul and David' is considered a Rembrandt masterpiece once more. It goes on display at the museum this Thursday, the star of a special exhibition entirely devoted to the painting and its tumultuous past."

New York Times: "Since [the] Clinton [Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York,] opened in 1845, dozens of inmates have escaped over, under or through the prison’s thick walls, their exploits detailed in breathless, often sensationalistic, newspaper reports of earlier eras." CW: As if the Times' extensive coverage of last week's escape wasn't sensationalistic. ...

New York Times: The life of a fugitive presents many opportunities to blunder -- and get caught.

Washington Post: "It’s a happy day for luggage manufacturers. The world’s major airlines could soon be changing their requirements for carry-on luggage, potentially forcing people to buy new bags. Working with airlines and aircraft manufacturers including Boeing and Airbus, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association, unveiled a new best-size guideline on Tuesday for carry-on bags at 21.5 inches tall by 13.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep. That's 21 percent smaller than the size currently permitted by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines."

CW: Okay, I finally found a Daily Mail story I'm willing to link. The hills are alive.

Stephen Colbert, Lyricist:

Griff Witte of the Washington Post: "Eight-hundred years ago this month, rebellious barons and a despised, cash-strapped king gathered in a verdant riverside meadow 20 miles outside London to seal an agreement that would change the course of history. The words of the Magna Carta have inspired democratic movements the world over and formed a basis for countless constitutions...." But not for Great Britain, which "is one of just three major democracies that lack formal, written constitutions." Some Britons are thinking it's time to fix that.

Washington Post: Actor Jason Alexander reveals why the "Seinfeld" show killed off George Costanza's fiancee Susan.

When a Cop Loves a Cheapskate. Taylor Berman of Gawker: "Last July, NYPD Officer Ymmacula Pierre and her partner found Kenneth Sanden dead after being called to his East Village apartment by a concerned relative. So Pierre allegedly did what any respectable cop would do: pocket the dead man’s Mastercard and use it to buy a diamond ring." Pierre ordered the ring while in her boyfriend's apartment, & that is where the ring was to be shipped. It appears to me that Pierre is (allegedly) a girl who believes in traditional marriage. Very sweet.

Dylan Byers of Politico (June 1): "Jake Tapper will take over as host of CNN's 'State Of The Union' on June 14, he announced Monday.... He replaces Candy Crowley, who served as host of 'SOTU' until late last year. Tapper will also continue to host his 4 p.m. weekday program, 'The Lead.'" ...

Mediaite (May 29): "CNN’s Jake Tapper will no longer moderate a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative’s upcoming conference in Denver, Colo., to avoid a conflict of interest involving the recent coverage of its parent foundation’s controversies."


Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, appears on the cover of Vanity Fair, with the cover & other photos by Annie Liebovitz. There's a firewalled cover story. ...

... Another reason to admire actor Jessica Lange: she didn't know what "trending on Twitter" meant.

Reuters: "A $100,000 check is waiting for a mystery woman who donated a rare Apple 1 computer to a Silicon Valley recycling firm. CleanBayArea in Milpitas, California, said on its website that a woman in her 60s dropped off some electronic goods in April, when she was cleaning out the garage after her husband died. The boxes of computer parts contained a 1976 Apple 1, which the recycling firm sold for $200,000 in a private auction. The recycler’s policy is to split the proceeds 50-50 with the person who donated the equipment. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak built the computers in 1976 and sold them for $666.66 each. Only a few dozen of the groundbreaking home computers are known to still exist."

New York Times: "On Tuesday, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, along with the Iziko Museums of South Africa, the Slave Wrecks Project, and other partners, will announce in Cape Town that the remnants of the São José [-- which sank off the Cape of Good Hope in 1795 --] have been found, right where the ship went down, in full view of Lion’s Head Mountain. It is the first time, researchers involved in the project say, that the wreckage of a slaving ship that went down with slaves aboard has been recovered."

New York Times: "Charter Communications is near a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, people with direct knowledge of the talks said on Monday, a takeover that would create a new powerhouse in the rapidly consolidating American cable industry.... The potential acquisition of Time Warner Cable completes a lengthy quest by Charter and its main backer, the billionaire John C. Malone, to break into the top tier of the American broadband industry. If completed, the transaction would be the latest in a series of mergers remaking the market for broadband Internet and cable television in the United States." ...

     ... Update: "Charter Communications agreed on Tuesday to buy its much larger rival Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion in a deal that would transform the company into one of America’s largest cable and broadband operators."

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The Commentariat -- Feb. 7, 2013

Travis Waldron of Think Progress: to avert the impending sequester, the Congressional Progressive Caucus is introducing a bill that would balance spending cuts with revenue increases. CW: It's the only sensible proposal out there, which means it's never going to happen. ...

... This chart, which the CPC produced, shows what's happened so far:

... Greg Sargent: "Even if the parties reach a deal in the third round of deficit reduction to avert the sequester with something approaching an equivalent sum of spending cuts and new revenues, the overall deficit reduction balance would still be heavily lopsided towards Republicans. Yet they continue to insist on resolving round three only through cuts, anyway." ...

... Digby: "... at some point it would be nice if the president didn't open every negotiation, as he did again yesterday, by offering up a proposal that is, even if it's taken at face value with no further discussion, a GOP wet dream. He gives them a mile before the game has even started.... Since Democrats control one house of congress and the presidency, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense that it would be this lopsided if the Democrats weren't pretty much on the same page."

President Obama nominates Sally Jewell to be Secretary of the Interior:

Vice President Biden swears in John Kerry as Secretary of State (again):

Annie-Rose Strasser of Think Progress: when you stop receiving mail on Saturdays, think of Congress. It is their incompetence that caused the USPS to have to make severe cutbacks. "An analysis in July showed that the USPS, without [an unnecessarily over-funded] pension requirement [imposed by Congress, the Post Office] would have a $1.5 billion surplus." ...

... Actually, it's worse than Strasser lets on. John Tierney, writing in Salon, details the way the Cowardly Congress has been undermining the USPS for decades, ever since it pretended to make the Post Office an autonomous agency. "... when I see Postmaster General [Patrick] Donahue hold a press conference to announce that he intends to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, I cheer him on. He's aware that he probably doesn't have the legal authority to take this step without congressional approval. He probably wanted to stir up a fuss and get the public engaged on all this. After all, efforts to fix the Postal Service's main problems have been kicking around Capitol Hill for many months, with the House of Representatives failing to take any action."

Michael Shear & Scott Shane of the New York Times: "The White House on Wednesday directed the Justice Department to release to the two Congressional Intelligence Committees classified documents discussing the legal justification for killing, by drone strikes and other means, American citizens abroad who are considered terrorists.... The decision to release the legal memo to the Intelligence Committees came under pressure...." ...

... New York Times Editors: "John Brennan, the counterterrorism adviser most responsible for the program, faces a Senate confirmation hearing Thursday as President Obama's nominee as C.I.A. director. He should be questioned closely about the strikes: their purpose, legal justification and relationship to broader American foreign policy aims." ...

... ** C-SPAN will carry the Brennan hearings live, beginning at 2:30 pm ET. ...

... Lindsey Likes Barack. Ginger Gibson of Politico: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) will offer a resolution next week commending President Barack Obama's use of drones and the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki. 'Every member of Congress needs to get on board,' Graham said. 'It's not fair to the president to let him, leave him out there alone quite frankly. He's getting hit from libertarians and the left...,' Graham added.... Graham said the resolution will allow for a debate about who the nation is at war with and what proper action during times of war is." ...

... Alex Pareene of Salon: "And now you know, officially, that it’s awful, because Lindsey Graham is for it." ...

... Stephen Marche of Esquire: "... what the Obama administration is doing with their legal defense of targeted killing ... [is making] the president into a sovereign. Their language hides this basic fact: The president now gets to decide when the law doesn't apply.... Tens of millions of people are ferociously defending the Second Amendment..., and yet they utter not one peep when its basic principles are shaken to their foundation. And let's be honest about why the right doesn't attack Obama for this outrageous violation of the founding principles of the country: They don't want to look weak, and they think that it only affects people they don't mind seeing die anyway." ...

... Ian Millhiser & Zack Beauchamp of Think Progress write a thoughtful piece on the "white paper" NBC uncovered that provides a legal excuse justification for killing Americans suspected of being terrorists. They suggest 5 ways to rein in presidential powers in this regard. ...

... Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker on "what we don't know about drones": "The New America study found that between 2004 and 2010, the U.S. carried out a hundred and fourteen strikes, which the study's authors estimated killed between eight hundred and thirty and twelve hundred and ten people. Of those, the study found, between five hundred and fifty and eight hundred and fifty -- roughly two-thirds -- were probably militants." ...

... AND, as Al Jazeera reports, "a new report Living under drones released by human rights researchers at Stanford and New York universities says ... that the number of 'high-level' targets killed as a percentage of total casualties stands at two per cent." With video. CW: it's worth noting that the two reports -- Filkins' & the Stanford-NYU report rely on the same data.

... Colin Moynihan of the New York Times: "The Obama administration on Wednesday urged a federal appeals court to overturn a sweeping ruling by a district judge that blocked the government from enforcing a statute related to the indefinite detention without trial of terrorism suspects. Appearing before a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Manhattan, Robert M. Loeb, a Justice Department lawyer, said a lawsuit challenging the statute should be dismissed because those who brought it -- including a former reporter for The New York Times, Christopher Hedges, who interacts with terrorist groups for his reporting, and several supporters of the antisecrecy group WikiLeaks -- had no real-world risk of being detained."

William Saletan of Slate: in the past two weeks the NRA has come up with eight "pathetic excuses" to oppose universal background checks. Saletan has the rundown.

Pretend President Rubio to Deliver Response to SOTU. Sarah Wheaton of the New York Times: "Senator Marco Rubio will give the Republicans' response to the State of the Union address, party leaders announced on Wednesday. Mr. Rubio ... will deliver his speech in both English and Spanish, according to a news release from Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, and Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, after President Obama appears before Congress on Tuesday."

It turns out it is not an inaccurate slur to say, "Most Republicans are racists." According to Tom Edsall, writing in the New York Times, an academic study found that 79 percent of Republicans manifest "racial resentment." Here's something I didn't know: 72 percent of voters in the 2012 presidential election were white. That would mean, I reckon, that the percentage of white voters during off-years is even greater.

Jessica Silver-Greenberg: "... documents [filed in a lawsuit] reveal that JPMorgan, as well as two firms the bank acquired during the credit crisis, Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns, flouted quality controls and ignored problems, sometimes hiding them entirely, in a quest for profit."

E. J. Dionne squints & sees a thin silver lining in Eric Cantor's speech. ...

... BECAUSE, as Dionne points out, contra Cantor's language about helping the middle class, out there in the hinterland, conservative Republican governors like Sam Brownback of Kansas & Bobby Stupid-Party Jindal of Louisiana are putting into practice a "Red State Model" of cutting taxes & services (& making taxes more regressive) which they claims will "spur economic growth." (The linked site is a firewalled Wall Street Journal story; if you can't get there from here, Google <wall street journal red state model>.

What About Bob? Carol Leonig & Jerry Markon of the Washington Post: "Sen. Robert Menendez [D-N.J.] raised concerns with top federal health-care officials twice in recent years about their finding that a Florida eye doctor -- a close friend and major campaign donor -- had overbilled the government by $8.9 million for care at his clinic, Menendez aides said Wednesday.... [Dr. Salomon] Melgen came to the attention of fraud investigators amid complaints from other local eye doctors alleging that his treatments were often unnecessary, a waste of money and sometimes harmful to patients' eyesight, the two former federal officials and several doctors said. CW: what I think puts Menendez on particularly shaky ground is that Melgen is not a constituent; Menendez could probably justify "constituent service," but the Menendez-Melgen Mutual Beneficial Society sounds is just an old-fashioned bribery arrangement.

Local News

Josh Israel of Think Progress: "Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William Howell (R) killed the Inauguration Day sneak attack by Senate Republicans who hoped to pass a massive mid-decade gerrymander. Howell ruled that the Senate's amendment to a House bill making minor technical corrections to the House legislative maps ... was a 'vast rewrite' and would 'stray dramatically' from the legislation's original purpose.... Virginia Senate Republican Leader Tommy Norment blasted Howell's ruling Wednesday, saying: '... The Virginia Senate Republican Caucus remains committed to correcting the egregious hyperpartisan [2011] gerrymander that has resulted in the current tortuously drawn Senate districts.' The 'hyperpartisan' maps passed on a 32-5 bipartisan vote in 2011, with Norment voting for the maps."

Going Transvaginal. Jillian Rayfield of Salon: "A Republican legislator in Michigan has proposed legislation that would require women to go through an invasive procedure known as a transvaginal ultrasound before they could get an abortion. The bill, which was introduced by Republican state Rep. Joel Johnson and co-sponsored by 22 other lawmakers (including two Democrats), requires the 'performance of a diagnostic ultrasound examination of the fetus at least two hours before an abortion is performed.' ... NARAL Pro-Choice America grades [Michigan] an 'F'), and Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, has recently signed into law a slew of measures that generally increase restrictions on abortions."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Eddie Ray Routh, accused of killing Chris Kyle, the author of 'American Sniper,' had been released from a hospital over his parents' objections just days before the shooting, his lawyers said."

New York Times: "An insurance company that paid Lance Armstrong millions of dollars in bonuses for winning the Tour de France sued him Thursday in a Dallas court, seeking its money back because Armstrong was stripped of his Tour titles and admitted using performance-enhancing drugs for all seven of his Tour victories."

AP: "A blizzard of potentially historic proportions threatened to strike the Northeast with a vengeance Friday, with up to 2 feet of snow feared along the densely populated Interstate 95 corridor from the New York City area to Boston and beyond. From Pennsylvania to Maine, people rushed to stock up on food, shovels and other supplies, and road crews readied salt and sand, halfway through what had been a merciful winter. Before the first snowflake had even fallen, Boston, Providence, R.I., Hartford, Conn., and other New England cities canceled school Friday, and airlines scratched more than 1,700 flights, with the disruptions certain to ripple across the U.S."

AP: "A fired police officer who threatened to bring 'warfare' to the Los Angeles Police Department went on a shooting rampage that left a policeman and two others dead and set off an extraordinary manhunt Thursday that put Southern California on edge, led hair-trigger officers to mistakenly shoot innocent citizens and forced police to guard their own. The search for Christopher Dorner had three states and Mexico on alert before shifting Thursday afternoon to the snowy mountains around Big Bear Lake, about 80 miles east of Los Angeles, where police found his burned-out pickup truck." ...

... The Los Angeles Times story is here with links to related stories. The paper has a firewall, perhaps with a 5-article limit.

New York Times: "Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told Congress on Thursday that the Pentagon had supported a plan to arm Syrian rebels that was developed last year by David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director at the time, and backed by Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was then serving as Secretary of State.... The White House rebuffed the plan, rejecting the advice of most of the key members of Mr. Obama's national security team. The New York Times reported in its Sunday editions that as the fighting in Syria raged last summer, Mr. Petraeus developed the plan, which ... called for vetting rebels and training fighters who would be supplied with weapons."

AP: "President Barack Obama is promoting his second-term agenda to House Democrats, eager to keep them unified as a bulwark against a Republican majority on issues as diverse as the economy, immigration and guns. Obama was meeting with Democratic lawmakers Thursday during their retreat in Lansdowne, Va., a day after he held a closed-door session with Senate Democrats at their off-campus conference in Annapolis, Md."

Washington Post: "The shooter of an unarmed security guard at the Family Research Council headquarters last summer was on a mission to target organizations he viewed as anti-gay, and he obtained a gun days before he tried to carry out a plan to kill 'as many people as possible,' according to newly disclosed court documents."

New York Times: "The United States blacklisted several organizations in Iran on Wednesday, widening the American effort to pressure the government over its nuclear program and human rights abuses." ...

... AP: "Iran's supreme leader Thursday strongly rejected proposals for direct talks with the United States, effectively quashing suggestions for a breakthrough one-on-one dialogue on the nuclear standoff and potentially other issues."

Reuters: "Yemen's president has asked his Iranian counterpart to stop backing armed groups on its soil after coastguards seized a consignment of missiles and rockets believed sent by the Islamic Republic.... Iran has denied any connection to the weapons, found aboard a vessel off the coast on January 23 in an operation coordinated with the U.S. Navy."


The Commentariat -- Feb. 6, 2013

** Michael Kugelman, in a New York Times op-ed, on the global land grab: big corporations buying up massive tracts of land in impoverished & strife-torn countries, with no benefit & considerable devastation coming to indigenous people.

Frank Newport of Gallup: "At least two-thirds of Americans favor each of five specific measures designed to address immigration issues -- ranging from 68% who would vote for increased government spending on security measures and enforcement at U.S. borders, to 85% who would vote for a requirement that employers verify the immigration status of all new hires. More than seven in 10 would vote for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants now living in this country."

Julie Pace of the AP: "President Barack Obama on Wednesday will nominate business executive and former engineer Sally Jewell to lead the Interior Department, an administration official said. Jewell is the president and chief executive officer at the outdoors company Recreational Equipment, Inc., known as REI, which sells clothing and gear for outdoor adventures with more than 100 stores across the country. Prior to joining REI in 2000, Jewell worked in commercial banking and as an engineer for Mobil Oil Corporation." CW: why is it that I think a CEO & former oil company engineer might not be the best choice for secretary of the interior? ...

... Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post has more on Jewell. ...

     ... UPDATE. John Broder of the New York Times: "President Obama has selected Sally Jewell, the chief executive of Recreational Equipment Inc., to lead the Interior Department, White House officials said Wednesday."

Robert Worth, et al., of the New York Times: "... the [U.S.'s] clandestine war will receive a rare moment of public scrutiny on Thursday, when its chief architect, John O. Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, faces a Senate confirmation hearing as President Obama's nominee for C.I.A. director." ...

... Greg Miller & Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post: "President Obama's plan to install his counterterrorism adviser as director of the CIA has opened the administration to new scrutiny over the targeted-killing policies it has fought to keep hidden from the public, as well as the existence of a previously secret drone base in Saudi Arabia."

... James Downie of the Washington Post: "The summary memo is a chilling document, full of twisted definitions, gaping loopholes and hints that the White House still isn't sharing its full justification for killing citizens without due process.... Fortunately, the president's nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA gives the Senate an ideal opportunity to demand that the White House be more forthcoming.... If the White House doesn't hand over the memos, then the Senate should strongly consider delaying Brennan's confirmation."

... New York Times Editors: "... the newly disclosed 'white paper' offering a legal reasoning behind the claim that President Obama has the power to order the killing of American citizens who are believed to be part of Al Qaeda ... had the air of a legal justification written after the fact for a policy decision that had already been made, and brought back unwelcome memories of memos written for President George W. Bush to justify illegal wiretapping, indefinite detention, kidnapping, abuse and torture.... This dispute goes to the fundamental nature of our democracy, to the relationship among the branches of government and to their responsibility to the public."

Michael Shear & Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "President Obama on Tuesday called on lawmakers to quickly pass a new package of limited spending cuts and tax changes that can head off the automatic, across-the-board reductions set to begin March 1":

... Lori Montgomery & Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post: "As Obama spoke, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office rolled out new projections showing that the spending battles of the past two years have helped shrink record budget deficits but have also hampered economic growth. The deficit — the annual gap between taxes and spending -- is projected to fall to $845 billion this year, the first time it has come in under $1 trillion since 2008." ...

... CW: yesterday the Cantor crowd accused President Obama of stepping on Cantor's speech when he (Obama) made brief remarks in the White House briefing room. However, I suspect Cantor's speech was itself an effort to cover up the CBO report to Congress. Why muzzle the CBO? How about this? -- Steve Benen: "The conversation on Capitol Hill is so ridiculous, it no longer resembles reality in any meaningful way. Congressional Republicans insist they want to improve the strength of the recovery. How? By cutting spending that undermines the strength of the recovery." Read Benen's whole post & you have to come away realizing it is not just the crop of House Tea Party Republicans who are crazy -- it's the "mainstream" leadership, too. (I originally typed that "meanstream"; shoulda left it. ...

... Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: "... debt reduction just isn't a five-alarm fire kind of problem, no matter how loudly the Pete Petersons of the world claim otherwise.... If we rein in healthcare spending, we're in good shape. If we don't, we have problems." ...

... AND Brian Beutler of TPM explains one reason not to rely on the CBO report: "... this particular budget and economic forecast is highly uncertain, even in the short term. Looming fights over the sequester, government appropriations, and the debt limit could dramatically alter the fiscal outlook and thus the economic forecast, for the year and coming decade. Similarly, deficits will be higher than projected if Congress, as it routinely does, extends expiring tax credits and overrides a 25 percent cut to Medicare physician reimbursement rates before the end of the year."

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "President Obama plans to travel to Israel this spring for the first time since taking office, as he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu try to move past the friction of the last four years now that both have won re-election."

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Two Democrats and two Republicans in the House of Representatives have introduced legislation that would create a dedicated federal anti-gun-trafficking law while further cracking down on people who buy firearms for someone else and lie about it on federal background check forms."

Eric Cantor's big speech. Text of remarks as prepared. ...

... Ed Kilgore has video of Cantor's "bad speech, poorly delivered." Still, Cantor had an experienced speechwriter -- Barack Obama:

... Jonathan Easley of Politics USA: "Eric Cantor wanted to attach the same stale Republican ideas to the language of Obama. A side by side comparison of the two speeches reveals the hollowness of this technique. Obama's speech in Topeka followed the language with examples and policy proposals. Eric Cantor's speech was full of attempts to relate to the common man and families, but specific ideas were mostly missing. This omission was intentional. Cantor is only interested in changing the tone of the Republican Party, not the policies." ...

... Ed Kilgore: "If Republicans are actually proud of this essay in policy minimalism..., then they are further away from any real reinvention of themselves than even hostile observers like me thought possible." ...

... Headline of the Week: "Eric Cantor Puts Old Whine in New Bottles." (Mark 2:22) Charles Pierce was not impressed with the "details." Because there weren't any. ...

... CW: one thing about this "rebranding" -- borrowing Obama's language without embracing any of Obama's policies -- is that in his borrowing, Cantor implicitly acknowledges that Obama won the election, & polls show he won because Americans like Obama's policies better than they liked the GOP's. Moreover, in this speech Cantor muttered what Republicans haven't said since Saint Ronald decreed "government is the problem": while the bulk of Cantor's speech was the usual boilerplate "get government out of the way of hardworking, self-sufficient Americans," Cantor also admitted that government does have a role to play beyond killing people in foreign lands, & even got semi-specific once; to wit: "There is an appropriate and necessary role for the federal government to ensure funding for basic medical research." One small step from a guy who last year wasn't sure he could vote for disaster aid. ...

... MEANWHILE, Dana Milbank can't help but notice the duplicity of a man who recites Emma Lazarus but claims he has no idea what Senate Republicans are doing about immigration & talks about the evils of ObamaCare without acknowledging that standard-issue Republicans like Gov. John Kasich of Ohio -- a former colleague of Cantor's -- were buying into ObamaCare. Maybe a better biblical reference would be Matthew 7:15: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves." ...

... Perhaps Steve Benen best gets to the heart of Cantor's insurmountable problem: "Cantor seems to realize that another 'government is evil' speech is pointless -- for all the assumptions about the 'center-right nation,' he realizes that the American mainstream sees a role for a healthy public sector that promotes the general welfare. But the problem with this latest rebranding campaign is that Cantor wants to present a Republican agenda that will 'benefit families across the nation,' but he can't fill in the blanks. There's a reason for this, which the right generally prefers not to admit: conservatism isn't an effective governing philosophy when it comes to using government to make a positive material difference in the lives of working families."

Brian Beutler of TPM re: that recent Washington, D.C. Circuit Court decision nullifying President Obama's NLRB recess appointments: "The Congressional Research Service found a total of 329 intrasession recess appointments -- appointments that occurred when the Senate adjourned in the middle of a session -- since 1981. By the terms of Noel Canning v. NLRB, all of those appointments would have been invalid." CW: the D.C. court is so extreme, they claim every president in recent history -- including those who appointed them -- has routinely violated the Constitution while no one objected. Funny this never came up before.

Here's a news quiz from the Pew Research Center. CW: I missed the same question contributor P. D. Pepe missed. Fifty-seven percent of those who took the quiz got the right answer. So we're not so smart. Thanks to James S. for the link.

Nicole Perlroth for the New York Times: at "the Kaspersky Annual Summit in San Juan, P.R..., one of the scarier presentations was delivered by Ang Cui, a Columbia Ph.D. student, who demonstrated how to spy on calls made with Cisco's VoIP phone. Yes, that is the same phone ... President Obama [uses] aboard Air Force One." Cisco tried repeatedly to patch their system, but Cui found work-arounds every time. Cisco gave up. ...

... Perlroth: "Phil Zimmermann, the creator of the widely used Pretty Good Privacy e-mail encryption software, recently unveiled Silent Circle, which adds security features to phone, video and text messages sent by smartphones. The new service, which charges a monthly fee, could emerge as a more secure rival to Snapchat and Skype."

Right Wing World

Trouble in Roveland. Jed Lewison: Karl Rove's new SuperPAC to stop crazy Republicans from winning primaries boasts about have just re-elected the same crazy Republican they held up as the poster Boy of All Crazy Republicans: Rep. Steve King of Iowa. CW: if you think this makes absolutely no sense, remember that you're in Right Wing World where making sense is against the law.

Local News

Scott Shane of the New York Times: "Maryland appears likely in the next few weeks to join the growing list of states that have abolished capital punishment. Some longtime death penalty opponents say no one in the country has done more to advance that cause than [Kirk Noble] Bloodsworth. But ending executions in Maryland, the state that once was determined to kill him, would be a personal victory for him." CW: Bloodsworth, the first death-row inmate exonerated by DNA evidence, has a compelling story to tell, & Shane tells it.

America's Worst Governor Makes Plans for a Second Term. Alexander Burns & Maggie Haberman of Politico: "Rick Scott is preparing to defend his Florida governorship with the most expensive reelection campaign in state history, drawing up plans for a battleship-sized political operation aimed at overcoming the Republican's deep personal unpopularity. The anticipated price tag, according to sources familiar with Scott’s plans: $100 million." Scott's possible opponent -- Republican-turned-Democrat & former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS makes a pre-emptive strike against actor Ashley Judd, who has expressed an interest in running against Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014. Kevin Cerilli of Politico has the backstory:

News Ledes

Boy Scouts Not Prepared. AP: "... the Boy Scouts of America is retreating until May from a decision about whether to ease its policy of excluding gays. Whatever the organization eventually does, it's likely to anger major constituencies and worsen schisms within Scouting."

AP: "The U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about $2 billion annually, the financially struggling agency says. In an announcement scheduled for later Wednesday, the service is expected to say the Saturday mail cutback would begin in August."...

     ... New York Times Update: "Saying it needed to take drastic steps to stem billions of dollars in losses, the Postal Service announced on Wednesday that it would seek to stop Saturday delivery of letters, a sweeping change in the way the agency operates that immediately drew criticism from postal unions and some businesses."

Guardian: "The US Federal Reserve bank has confirmed one of its internal websites was broken into by hackers after the hacktivist group Anonymous was claimed to have stolen details of more than 4,000 bank executives."

New York Times: "A leading Tunisian opposition politician, [Chokri Belaid,] who had been critical of the Islamist-led government was fatally shot outside his home in Tunis Wednesday, the government news agency said." ...

... Reuters: "Thousands of protesters gathered in Sidi Bouzid, cradle of the Arab Spring uprisings, after a prominent secular opponent of Tunisia's moderate Islamist-led government was shot dead on Wednesday."

Reuters: "Britain's Royal Bank of Scotland will pay U.S. and British authorities $615 million and plead guilty to wire fraud in Japan to settle allegations it manipulated global benchmark interest rates."

AP: "As FBI and police negotiators sought for days to coax an Alabama man into freeing a kindergartner held hostage in an underground bunker, the captor was planning for violence.... He rigged the bunker with explosives, tried to reinforce it against any raid, and when SWAT agents stormed the shelter Monday to rescue the boy, Jimmy Lee Dykes engaged in a firefight that left the captor dead, the FBI and officials said."


The Commentariat -- Feb. 5, 2013

Former President Bill Clinton, in Politico, on the Family & Medical Leave Act, which he signed into law 20 years ago today.

President Obama spoke Monday in Minneapolis about controlling gun violence:

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Obama traveled to the nation's heartland to press his case for tougher gun laws on Monday, even as evidence mounted in Washington that expanded background checks on gun sales may emerge as a legislative compromise in the bitterly divisive cultural debate." ...

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post is not impressed with the NRA's repeated claim that there are thousands of gun laws that are not being enforced: "It may well be the case that there are 'thousands' of laws, but what does that mean? What does counting statutes, or local regulations, say about the quality or effectiveness of those laws? ... This 20,000 figure appears to be an ancient guesstimate that has hardened over the decades into a constantly repeated, never-questioned talking point."

Jim Abrams of the AP: "Senate Democrats, bolstered by Republican support, on Monday launched a new attempt to broaden a law protecting women from domestic abuse by expanding its provisions to cover gays, lesbians and Native Americans. The legislation to renew the Violence Against Women Act appeared on a smooth path toward passage in the Senate, possibly by the end of this week. Monday's vote to make the bill the next order of business was 85-8.... Advocates hope that Republicans [in the House], smarting from election losses among women voters in November, won't repeat their resistance last year to the Senate approach." ...

... Annie-Rose Strasser of Think Progress: "The Senators who voted against moving to debate on the bill were: Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Tim Scott (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Rand Paul (R-KY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and James Risch (R-ID)."

Manu Raju & David Rogers of Politico: "Sen. John McCain appears to have cleared the way Monday for Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense. The Arizona Republican ... said Monday he would oppose any attempt to filibuster the nomination, likely dooming any attempt by Senate conservatives to sustain a protracted procedural fight to delay Hagel's confirmation."

Julia Preston & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia, said on Monday that a series of hearings he will schedule in the coming months would examine ... a possible overhaul of the immigration system, including proposals for a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.... Mr. Goodlatte ... has established a solid record of opposition to any measures he regarded as amnesty for illegal immigrants. But he said the Judiciary hearings would include scrutiny of proposals to offer legal status to most of the immigrants living illegally in the country."

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "With studies suggesting that long lines at the polls cost Democrats hundreds of thousands of votes in November, party leaders are beginning a push to make voting and voter registration easier, setting up a likely new conflict with Republicans.... White House officials have told Congressional leaders that the president plans to press for action on Capitol Hill, and Democrats say they expect him to highlight the issue in his State of the Union address next week." CW: Please do look at the accompanying charts of how long it took different groups to vote. I am so very proud of the bottom line -- the length of time it took to vote in Florida relative to other states. Go Rick Scott! ...

... Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: "A new study by Princeton molecular biologist and neuroscientist Sam Wang digs deeper into the effect of the Republican gerrymander, and finds that the gerrymanders in seven states were so powerful that they are the equivalent of 1.7 million Democrats simply deciding not to show up at the polls.... Such gerrymanders can exist because five conservative justices refused to block partisan redistricting in a case called Vieth v. Jubelirer."

"Republicans v. Consumers." Andy Rosenthal of the New York Times: "On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sent a letter to President Obama, cosigned by 42 other Senators, insisting on 'structural changes' to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.... Unless those changes are made, Mr. McConnell said, the Senate by golly is not going to approve the appointment of a director." ...

... ** Nullification. Jamelle Bouie: "Republicans have decided to simply block any attempt at enforcing laws they don't like. For the [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau], this means blocking confirmation for its director -- former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray -- until the administration agrees to gut the agency and leave consumers more vulnerable to predatory financial practices.... Blanket objections to any nominee -- out of opposition to the agency itself -- is an unacceptable and unprecedented abuse of Senate powers. Far from offering 'advice and consent,' GOP senators are using the confirmation process to block implementation of laws passed by Congress and signed by the president." ...

... ** Charles Pierce: "the Republicans seem to be arguing over whether they will be the Party Of Plutocracy or the Party Of The Stupid Rapey Guys. Will they represent the interests that stole most of the economy and wrecked what was left, or will they be the party of the people obsessed with snowflake Jeebus zygotes? ... (It's not the Tea Party that's trying to castrate the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. It's 'establishment Republicans' like Mitch McConnell.... They're acting in the interest of the mountebanks in the new financial establishment, all of them independent political actors.)" CW: I've got news for Pierce. There are plenty of elected GOP officials -- like Paul Ryan -- who represent both wings. ...

... Pierce also wrote an excellent translation of Carly Fiorina's economic philosophy, as expressed in an exchange we saw in yesterday's Commentariat: "Krugman and Fiorina got into it about the best way to put people to work, and Fiorina carefully explained to the Nobel Prize-winning economist that, in her experience at cratering companies and walking away with a big score, public sector employees don't do real jobs and are not paid in real money. They are paid in Magic Federal Dollars which are stolen from the rest of us.... Yes. You see that guy out there with the shovel, filling in the potholes on your street? His salary, such as it is, is not the same thing, and not even remotely as 'efficient,' as paying someone $21 million to clean out their desk."

Michael Isikoff of NBC News: "A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be 'senior operational leaders' of al-Qaida or 'an associated force' -- even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S. The 16-page memo ... provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration's ... dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects, including those aimed at American citizens, such as the September 2011 strike in Yemen that killed alleged al-Qaida operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan."

New York Times: "The Justice Department, along with state prosecutors, plans to file civil charges against Standard & Poor's Ratings Service, accusing the firm of fraudulently rating mortgage bonds that led to the financial crisis, people briefed on the plan said Monday. A suit against S.&P. -- expected to filed this week -- would be the first the government has brought against the credit ratings agencies related to the financial crisis, despite continued questions about the agencies' conflicts of interest and role in creating a housing bubble."

Stephen Colbert interviews Justice Sonia Sotomayor. An excellent value:

Sahil Kapur of Think Progress: "Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced Monday that he will accept the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, becoming the fifth Republican governor to embrace the provision of the health care reform law that the Supreme Court made optional. The governor unveiled the decision as part of his budget proposal."

Rachel Maddow & Frank Rich talk about Republican infighting:

Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post has what I thought was a fairly good piece on the continuing criticisms of Michelle Obama's physique. Thompson ledes with the story of an Alabama high school football coach -- Bob Grisham -- who, according to Thompson said, "Fat butt Michelle Obama. Look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She's overweight." Thompson even cites a couple of people who -- accurately -- attribute the remarks to racism. But inexplicably Thompson does not report the clearest racist remark Grisham made -- that Obama is "a fat gorilla." ...

     ... CW Update: I've since listened to the audio tape, & Grisham was not the one who made the "fat gorilla" comment, as reported in the Huff Post & elsewhere, though he certainly did not challenge the remark, which might have been made by a student.

... Grisham also made extremely derogatory remarks about gays. According to the AP, "... Grisham has been suspended without pay for 10 days and is ordered to attend sensitivity training for four days." CW: I'm pretty sure whatever "sensitivity training" Coach Bubba gets in Alabama will turn him into a notable civil rights advocate. ...

Bob Grisham. Times-Daily photo.... Update: in response to JJG's comment today, I've posted a picture of Grisham, which unfortunately does not include a shot of his posterior. Nonetheless, the headshot suggests the man is not svelte. The other two people Thompson mentions who have made public remarks criticizing Michelle Obama's body are Rush Limbaugh & Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.). ...

In case you don't know what Jim Sensenbrenner looks like, here's his official portrait; that is, what he thinks he looks like:

Now let's see what Sensenbrenner really looks like:

Re: JJG's comment on the obesity rate in Alabama: at 32 percent, it's one of the highest in the nation.

Justin Sink of The Hill: "Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) broke his silence on an alleged prostitution scandal for the first time Monday, dismissing the allegations that he solicited women during trips to the Dominican Republic as 'totally unsubstantiated' and 'absolutely false.' ... One of the women cited ... was interviewed Monday by Univision, and denied having ever worked as a prostitute or having met Menendez."

CW: Rachel Maddow explores a subject I touched on the other day. You cannot confuse wingers with the facts. Also, it's worth noting that over there is Right Wing World, it isn't just Michelle Obama who is too fate; so is her husband (unless he photoshopped in that little tummy the way he did the gun & the smoke & the Mom jeans, etc.):

Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed: it seems people are outraged at this tweet by former Rep. Ron Paul, the presidential candidate & libertarian dahling: "Chris Kyle's death seems to confirm that 'he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.' Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn't make sense." CW: It seems to me Paul was just stating the obvious, tho because I am always reticent to speak ill of the dead in the immediate aftermath of their deaths, I would have kept my mouth shut on this, too. At least for now. Well-meaning people make mistakes every day, even in their efforts to help others. But those mistakes usually aren't fatal -- unless lethal weapons are involved. ...

... One of those upset: the latest Paul presidential candidate -- Li'l Randy.

The Smoking Gun: "Paul Guaschino was driving Friday when a fellow motorist spotted an 'Impeach Obama' bumper sticker on the 62-year-old Connecticut resident's vehicle. According to cops, the other driver apparently did not appreciate the bumper sticker and 'displayed his dislike by showing his middle finger.' In response, Guaschino allegedly followed the other driver to a traffic light, where he exited his car -- baseball bat in hand -- and struck the trunk of the middle finger-waving driver. The second motorist 'fled in fear of his safety,' police reported." CW Safety Tip of the Day: Do not challenge wingers. They are crazy. Some of them are crazy-violent. They carry weapons. They are prone to using the weapons. ...

... CW: Speaking of guns & Kentucky (see Paul, Rand), this PCCC ad against Mitch McConnell is, IMHO, extremely effective:

News Ledes

New York Times: "Essie Mae Washington-Williams, who lived for decades with a stunning secret -- that she was the interracial daughter of Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, a former segregationist who never acknowledged her publicly as his child — died Monday in a nursing home near Columbia, S.C. She was 87."

AP: "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Egypt on Tuesday for the first visit by an Iranian leader in more than three decades, marking a historic departure from years of frigid ties between the two regional heavyweights. Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi gave Ahmadinejad a red-carpet welcome on the tarmac at Cairo airport, shaking the Iranian's hand and exchanging a kiss on each cheek as a military honor guard stood at attention."

New York Times: "The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles released 12,000 pages of internal files last Thursday on priests accused of sexually abusing children, saying that it was finally abiding by a settlement it signed with victims six years ago to make the painful history public. But it now appears that the files the church released with much fanfare are incomplete and many are unaccounted for, according to the abuse victims' lawyers. In addition, on many documents the names of church supervisors informed of abuse allegations were redacted by the archdiocese, in apparent violation of a judge's order." "Astronomers should dramatically ramp up the sky surveys, not only to better prepare for threats to Earth [by asteroid hits] but also to exploit asteroids' contents, scientists say."


The Commentariat -- Feb. 4, 2013

The Inconsistent Client. Adam Liptak of the New York Times: President Obama's shifting stance on gay marriage creates challenges for his lawyer, U.S. Solicitor General Donald Virrelli, who must argue two cases on the issue before the Supreme Court this term.

Jodi Kantor of the New York Times: "... the release of her new memoir, 'My Beloved World,' suggests that [Justice Sonia Sotomayor] has broader ambitions than her colleagues, to play a larger and more personal role on the public stage."

Lindsey Bourma of CBS News: "President Obama said today there's 'no doubt' additional revenue is needed to bring down the U.S. deficit, but believes lawmakers can do it 'without raising taxes again'":

Republicans = "Friends of Fraud." Paul Krugman on GOP efforts to destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: "... just four years after runaway bankers brought the world economy to its knees, Senate Republicans are using every means at their disposal, violating all the usual norms of politics in the process, in an attempt to give the bankers a chance to do it all over again."

Catherine Rampell of the New York Times: "... the Labor Department's latest jobs snapshot and other recent data reports present a strong case for crowning baby boomers as the greatest victims of the recession and its grim aftermath. These Americans in their 50s and early 60s -- those near retirement age who do not yet have access to Medicare and Social Security -- have lost the most earnings power of any age group, with their household incomes 10 percent below what they made when the recovery began three years ago, according to ... a data analysis company." ...

... Matt Yglesias of Slate: but, see, boomers' vulnerability is a big cost-savings for "entitlement" programs. "Failure to provide adequate social services to unemploy[ed] 61 year-olds not only saves money because you don't need to pay for the benefits, it saves even more money when it leads to that guy dying at 71 rather than 74." CW: it's the GOP Die Quickly Plan that Rep. Alan Grayson [D-Fla.] outlined about 4 years ago.

... Digby: "This is why I so love Pete Peterson and Alan Simpson for launching their generational war.... In fact, they should look at what happened to this baby boom generation as an object lesson in timing. You just never know when the bottom is going to fall out and all your best laid plans for saving and accumulating wealth are shot to hell because a bunch of greedy bankers and financiers decided to gamble with other people's money. Most of those who wind up depending on Social Security are hard-working people who did everything right. And that's why these millionaire plutocrats are such con artists. They are trying to preserve America for the young, alright. But it's for their own heirs. That's how moneyed elites turn themselves into Aristocrats."

** NEW. Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post: "Take a seat, balloon boy. Paul Krugman has become the first human I've ever witnessed escaping from the gravitational pull of something with black hole-like density: Joe Scarborough and his gang of deficit hacks.... This is not an issue of right-versus-left ideological conflicts. This is a right-versus-wrong conflict, pure and simple. It's a Beltway bubble versus real-world conflict. It's a data-tested versus magical-thinking conflict."

Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post: "The $178 billion wireless industry is fiercely lobbying against the federal government's plan to create powerful WiFi networks across the nation, but Google, Microsoft say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark major innovation."

David Sanger & Thom Shanker of the New York Times: The Obama administration is moving, "in the next few weeks, to approve the nation's first rules for how the military can defend, or retaliate, against a major cyberattack."

NEW. Steve Benen: "In LaPierre's mind, it doesn't matter what officials say their position is, and it doesn't matter what policymakers include in legislation. What really matters is the paranoid imagination of Wayne LaPierre -- who apparently can read minds and ascertain what Democrats secretly have in mind." ...

... Paul Krugman: "The NRA is now revealed as an insane organization." Krugman lets some GOP backbencher have it, & Carly Fiorina lies about what Krugman said less than 2 minutes after he said it. How can anyone abide her?:

... ALSO, Fiorina goes off on one of her myth-repeating rants, & Krugman calls her out for it:

     ... CW: Fiorina's smug girly-girl/schoolmarm demeanor is insufferable, especially because she adopts the pose to make her smoke-blowing seem like heart-rending truthtelling. Wouldn't it be nice if Snuffolopogus were able to fact-check her instead of sitting there mute while she spews disinformation? ...

... CW: One thing to always bear in mind about arguments from the denizens of Right Wing World -- you cannot win because they always grossly distort what their opponents say, whether they're pulling a Fiorina & arguing against something you didn't say or pulling a LaPierre & "reading your mind" and/or calling you a duplicitous liar. Combine this with their uncanny ability to make up "facts" & "statistics" that suit them, & it is pointless to speak to these people.

Law Prof. Shirley Katzen has a very good op-ed piece in the Washington Post on the faulty reasoning behind the recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to void President Obama's recess appointments to the NLRB. For one thing, the Court has no business interfering at all.

Please, Moroni, Let This Be True. Kevin Cirilli of Politico: "Tagg Romney, son of former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, is considering a Senate run in Massachusetts's upcoming special election, according to the Boston Herald." ...

    ... UPDATE: Crap, there is no Angel Moroni. Shushannah Walshe of ABC News: "Two sources close to both Tagg and his father Mitt tell ABC News it's not going to happen. One consideration for Tagg Romney may be that his father lost the Bay State in last year’s presidential election by 23 points."

Right Wing World

Trouble in Right Wing World. Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times (and Fox "News"): "The biggest donors in the Republican Party are financing a new group to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party's efforts to win control of the Senate.The group, the Conservative Victory Project, is intended to counter other organizations that have helped defeat establishment Republican candidates over the last two election cycles. It is the most robust attempt yet by Republicans to impose a new sense of discipline on the party, particularly in primary races." ...

... Alexander Burns of Politico: American "Crossroads president Steven Law told the New York Times that Crossroads allies are creating the new organization to oppose candidates such as former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, who lost a once-competitive Senate race last year. Both the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund -- two of the most prominent groups that have boosted candidates on the right -- mocked the new initiative as yet another hapless establishment-side attempt to muzzle the GOP base. Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, branded it the 'Conservative Defeat Project.'" ...

... AND Steve Kornacki of Salon: "... it's possible the Conservative Victory Fund could save the GOP a few seats in 2014, [but] there's also the potential that its existence will only strengthen the right's resolve to fight the party establishment -- and to help the very candidates it's designed to stop."

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs finds "an absolutely blatant, in your face example of how the right wing blogs tell each other lies, circulate them, and turn them into unquestionable articles of faith. It's a microcosm of the reality-denying reactionary sickness at the heart of the conservative movement." No Defense Secretary Leon Panetta did not say waterboarding led to the capture of Osama bin Laden.

Michael Harlin of the right-wing American Thinker (a blog name apparently not meant to be comedic) in a post titled "Seven Reasons Why It's a Photoshop." CW: Right Wing World is so predictable, their "journalists" could save a lot of trouble by hiring liberals to write parodies of what they are definitely going to write themselves, then publish the parodies as straight copy & call it a day. ...

... AND Daniel Halper of the Winger Weekly Standard had the Scoop of the Day: the White House released the photo with this caveat: "This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House." ...

... CW: Yo, Danny Boy, that standard copyright language goes on every photo the White House makes available for publication. But great catch anyway. Asshole. Apparently Halper has never sought out a depiction of President Obama that doesn't look more-or-less like the WS's "official" portrait. ...

... P.S. Halper's revelation was such big news over there In Right Wing World that -- as is common practice -- it made the rounds. Assholes. ...

... P.P.S.: of course the law-abiding, Constitooshun-loving denizens of Right Wing World couldn't wait to violate the copyright, which -- on accounta they're violating a specific government regulation -- is a federal offense. Instead of throwing 'em all in Club Fed, let's send them to those re-education camps that concerned Michele Bachman. I'll be the teacher. ...

... Michael Shaw of Bag News points out a delicious irony re: the photo release: "... critics and conservatives short-sightedly forced Obama into releasing one of the most advantageous photos of his presidency. We know, of course, that such a photo, unilaterally released by the White House, would have been skewered as an epic example of pandering, in the caliber of 'Dukakis in the tank,' with skeet shooting sure to be derided by NRA-types as sissy stuff. Instead however, forced into releasing the photo as a STFU and evidence he's inhaled fired, the Administration, with absolutely no negative consequence, has inserted this amazing visual into the public record."

News Ledes

Lavonne Paire Davis, known as Pepper Paire. Photo from the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.New York Times: "Lavonne Paire Davis, a star in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League of the 1940s and 1950s and a consultant for the hit movie 'A League of Their Own,' died on Saturday in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles. She was 88.... Davis, who was known as Pepper Paire in her playing days, entered the league in 1944..."

AP: "President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill raising the government's borrowing limit, averting a default and delaying the next clash over the nation's debt until later this year."

ABC News: "A week-long Alabama standoff in which a retired trucker held a 5-year-old boy hostage in an underground bunker has ended with the kidnapper dead and the child safe, according to law enforcement. 'FBI Agents safely recovered the child who's been held hostage for nearly a week," FBI Special Agent Steve Richardson said at a news conference. The agent said negotiations with the suspect Richard Lee Dykes "deteriorated" in the past 24 hours."

New York Times: "Edward I. Koch, the three-term New York City mayor..., was celebrated on Monday as a transformational figure in the city's history and a quintessential New Yorker."

New York Times: "New Secretary of State John Kerry reported for duty Monday, acknowledging that as Hillary Rodham Clinton's successor he has 'big heels to fill' and promising to protect U.S. foreign service workers from terrorist attacks overseas."

AP: President "Obama will pitch his proposals to stem gun violence Monday in Minnesota, a Democratic-leaning state where officials have been studying ways to reduce gun-related attacks and accidents for several years."